January 2, 2008 – With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries approaching, I thought we’d begin taking a look at how the candidates address veterans issues. Whether a candidate’s platform calls for an end to the Iraq war or not, vets will continue to be a highly visible presence in American life. Today and tomorrow we’ll examine what the contenders are saying. The first four:
HILLARY CLINTON: Late last month Clinton visited a veterans home in Iowa as part of her “Holidays with Hillary” event series. The Wall Street Journal reports that she gave a specific proposal on low-interest loans:
Speaking to a crowd of mostly elderly and wheelchair-bound veterans from World War II and the Vietnam War, Mrs. Clinton announced her plans to enact an updated version of the GI Bill of Rights that would expand education, housing and entrepreneurial benefits. The plan would also allow veterans to use low-interest, no-fee loans to purchase, build or improve a home valued at up to $625,000. A proposed microloan program would give veterans up to $100,000 to start a small business.
RUDY GIULIANI: Gearing up for Florida’s January 29th primary, Giuliani, flanked by supporting veterans in that state, talked about beefing up the military and the resolve of this current generation’s soldiers (Orlando Sentinel):
Giuliani said the Army needs 10 more brigades and the Marine Corps’ ranks should be increased to 200,000. He added that the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard need similar buildups…Giuliani said he doubted the mettle of the current generations of Americans, wondering if they could live up to the standard of those who fought, and won, World War II and the Cold War. He said those doubts were dashed after the Sept. 11 attacks.
JOE BIDEN: Stumping through New Hampshire in August, Biden had this to say in the Nashua Telegraph:
“If the government has any sacred responsibility, it is to care for those we send to war that come back in bad shape. We are not taking care of the kids who are coming back.’’
Biden said his proposals would cost at least $1 billion a year to achieve, and he defended the cost of such spending.
“If I only have $10 to spend and you tell me it takes $9 to take care of these vets, I am going to spend all those $9 before I spend any money on you,’’ Biden said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, these are the only people making any sacrifice right now.’’
MITT ROMNEY: On Veterans Day Romney visited a company that makes microphones for fighter pilot helmets. He talked about troop strength and educational benefits:
[Romney] has pledged to add 100,000 active-duty troops if elected president, as well as to increase spending on military gear.
He told the workers at Gentex Electro-Acoustics that updating the G.I. bill to better keep pace with inflation is needed, as are the tuition and equipment changes.
“We’ve got to say that the children, the college students, of our armed services personnel should always know that they’re going to receive the special, lowest rate available in every state where their parents might serve so they’re able to enjoy education without having to pay an excessively high cost,” Romney said in this early voting state.
Each of the candidates has specific online information to address their platforms on veterans issues.
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